5 minutes with...Sicilia Restaurant's chef

Time Out spends five minutes with the chef at Sicilia, inside the Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate, The Gardens

Name: Stefano Ligori
Job title: Head Chef – Sicilia Restaurant
Age: 44

How long have you lived in Dubai?
I have lived in Dubai since October 2010, so almost six years now.

Where do you like to hang out in Dubai when you’re not at work?
During my day off I like to relax by the beach with my family, my wife and my two children. I also like visiting the swimming pool on a daily basis to help me de-stress from the kitchen.

What’s your top tip for visitors to Dubai?
I suggest to spend more time visiting the old town to gain more understanding of the fascinating local culture. The best area for this is Deira; with the Creek and souks that really showcase the traditional and cultural side of Dubai. Visiting the malls and new buildings is also interesting, but I find that when I take visitors to this side of Dubai they get a much deeper understanding of the country and its society.

What one thing would you like to do in Dubai that you haven’t done before?
I would really love to go fishing and discover the beauty of the open sea – it is on my bucket list for this year.

What career journey did you take before joining your restaurant?
My passion for food started when I was just 14 years old in my grandmother’s kitchen. My career started over 20 years ago when I started to work with my father in a restaurant in North Italy (Bolzano). Following this I worked in three reputable restaurants located in my beloved hometown of Bergamo, which also included a six-month internship in a 1 Michelin star restaurant. When I turned 33 I decided to move abroad to enrich my culinary journey, moving to Bermuda, where I spent six years in an international fine dining restaurant, before finally moving to Dubai in 2010.

Why should Time Out readers try your restaurant?
I recommend visiting Sicilia in Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate because I offer my guests a modern twist on classic Italian cuisine that is always cooked with the freshest of ingredients. I like to change my menu regularly to keep my regular customers interested and to ensure a wide variety of dishes is on offer.

What’s the best thing about dining at your restaurant in 2016?
The best thing guests can find in Sicilia Restaurant during 2016 will be the large variety of dishes that I have passionately spent hours upon hours perfecting. I ensure that my guests are experiencing the best in quality and standards as this is my top priority when I am in the kitchen.

What’s your dish recommendation at your restaurant?
I love every single one of my plates so it is very difficult for me to choose one - but if I have to pick, I would say I truly love the “Roasted Octopus” or the “Braised Beef Cheek”. From my pasta selection, I am often complimented on the “Artichoke Carbonara” and the “Homemade ravioli with Raschera and truffle served with a creamy Jerusalem artichoke sauce”.

Aside from where you work, where else do you like to dine in Dubai and why?
Even though Italian cuisine is my passion, I also enjoy going to modern Japanese restaurants because I love how artistic they are with using raw fish in their dishes.

What is the best dish you’ve ever tasted in your life and who made it?
Without a doubt, the best dish I have ever tasted is the “Homemade wild hare Pappardelle” which was made by my beloved grandmother.

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